Taking the first steps to exporting success


Businesses across the North West have been urged to take the first steps to exporting and to harness all the support that is available to help them on that journey.

Chris McFarlane Baxter, trade advisor at the Department for International Trade, told a conference attended by business leaders from across the region: “Your customers can be anywhere.”

The event at Bolton Whites Hotel, hosted by Lancashire Business View magazine in association with the DIT, focused on how companies start out on their international trade journey and where it can take them.

Chris, who is responsible for the implementation of the government’s export academy programme across the North West, said: “If you have products or services that sell in the UK you can find markets elsewhere.”

He explained how the free academy programme looked to lay a strong foundation for businesses considering taking those first steps into international trade.

The programme is just part of a wide range of support and expertise available from the DIT and other organisations to help businesses begin or expand their overseas trade.

That includes the government’s Internationalisation Fund, which is available to SMEs with match-funding of up to £9,000 available. The fund can be used for a variety of activities including market research, translation services, market visits, attending trade fairs and consultancy.

Chris urged businesses to take a pro-active approach to international trade and to see the positives, including the reputation for quality that British products and services have around the world. “There is opportunity,” he said.

And he added: “We try to encourage people to think more strategically about international trade.”

The breakfast event, one of a series organised across the region, brought together expert professionals in the support arena and business leaders who have benefitted from the help available.

John Pickervance head of Forbes Solicitors; commercial department, David Gorton, accountancy firm PM+M’s international liaison partner and Bill Ranatunga, vice president at marketing communications firm Weber Shandwick’s Northern office, came together to give their tips to would-be exporters.

They included taking steps to manage risk and protect intellectual property, the best ways of securing payment and how to deliver the right messages in unfamiliar overseas markets.


Setting out on the journey


The audience at Bolton also heard from three North West business owners at different stages of their export journeys who have benefited from DiT support and advice.

Pamela Moffat’s business p3od offers HR, organisational development and training and development services. She told the gathering how she was researching and exploring possible overseas markets for its services, including Australia, and nearer to home the Republic of Ireland.

She said: “The ambition is absolutely there. The advice from DiT has been absolutely brilliant from day one, encouraging us and helping to build our confidence.

“If you can sell it in the North West of England you can sell it anywhere, it’s really about that mindset.”

Dom Raban is the co-founder and chief executive of Xploro, a patient engagement platform that uses augmented reality, artificial intelligence and games to reduce anxiety for young patients going to hospital.

Dom established Xploro, based in Manchester, in 2016 after his daughter had recovered from cancer treatment and he realised the importance of providing patients with information about their treatment – something that was lacking in his daughter’s experience.

Now the award-winning platform is in use in hospitals in the UK, USA, Europe and Africa. He explained how the business was in the process of setting up a US parent company as it looked to raise American investment.

Dom said the company’s first export order was to the prestigious Boston Children’s Hospital in the US and he explained: “Exporting is central to everything we do. We realised to make a successful business exporting was essential and we built the platform with localisation in mind from day one.”

He added: “We’ve had lots of support from the DiT over the years, including from the Internationalisation Fund, which we used to help us with specialised translation.”

Dom also stressed the importance of harnessing the local knowledge of the DiT’s network of trade experts in consulate’s cross the globe.

TV cameraman John McKeown founded his business Wolftown to create a spirits brand inspired by the Nordic origins of his home town of Ulverston. Wolftown currently has two multi award winning gins, with plans for one more spirit in 2022.

John said the business was in its early stages, but international trade was on its future radar, and he had taken part in a DiT trade mission to the Republic of Ireland.

He said: “Ireland would be a really good place to start; at the moment I’m just building up my knowledge. The DiT really simplify the process of exporting, breaking it down into basic steps and demystifying it.”

Click the image below to view the event gallery

First steps to export - 28 June 22

For further information, go to www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade